Posted by: Marty | December 5, 2011

Joseph Smedley–Missionary to the American West

December 05, 1792 – Joseph Smedley was born in Westmoreland County, England. This is where he professed Christ and became a member of a Baptist church. After emigrating to the U.S., he applied to the Fifth Baptist Church of Philadelphia for membership, and a committee was appointed to investigate the matter and report to the church. Upon investigation, they discovered that he had been excluded by a church in England, and they would need time to determine the facts. On Aug. 23, 1834, in the absence of a letter, they decided to receive him into the church based on his confession of his Christian experience and on his approval of the church’s confession of faith and discipline. It shows the importance Baptist churches placed on church membership. The following month Smedley requested a letter of dismission in order to go west, where under the advisory counsel of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions and the employment of the U.S. Government, he became a teacher and missionary among the Indians. During this time his wife Mary Radcliff died in July of 1836 and left him in the care of seven children. In spite of this loss, he continued his ministry among the Choctaws, Creeks and Cherokees in an area of 80 miles west of Ft. Smith along the Arkansas and Canadian rivers. Smedley organized the first black Baptist church in Ft. Smith in 1856. He continued his missionary work, but the Civil War greatly curtailed his ministry. After the outbreak of hostilities, he was able to make only occasional visits to his churches. After a long and arduous ministry of over forty years, Smedley died on Aug. 27, 1877. Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 507-08.

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